Thinking About Running for Office? Learn More Here!

In late September and early October, InformMT and the Ozaukee League of Women Voters sponsored two Community Service Forums to share information about opportunities to serve our communities through elected office or a variety of volunteer positions.

The first chance to file nomination papers for elected positions on the Mequon-Thiensville Board of Education, Mequon Common Council and Thiensville Board of Trustees will be in early December.  To view the candidate forum and learn more about positions, responsibilities, workload and timetables, click here.


School Board, The City, The Schools, The Village

MTSD Rated #1 District in Wisconsin Again

For the second year in a row, the Mequon-Thiensville School District was rated the top K-12 public school district in the state of Wisconsin.

Three years ago the Department of Public Instruction introduced a process of grading schools based on a specific set of parameters related to student achievement and other data such as graduation rate, improvement in state test scores and other objective measures. The parameters are still being refined but MTSD made the top of the list again. Last year was the first year that entire districts were rated.

All six of the District’s schools were rated “significantly exceeds expectations.” Homestead High School received the second highest rating in the state, and the highest among high schools with enrollment over 200 students. To see more district and school ratings, click here and once on the site, click on the box that says “For District and School Report Cards.”

School Board, School District, The Schools

MTSD Moves Forward on Ad Hoc Recommendations: Land Sale, Capital Improvements, 4-Year-Old Kindergarten

Two years ago this month, the MTSD Board of Education approved a Strategic Plan.

For some organizations, the exercise of putting together a strategic plan is basically just that: an exercise. The focus is on semantics and vivid vision statements and not how to accomplish what actually needs to be done.

That has not been the scenario in MTSD. In the months after the plan was approved, the Board grappled with the question of how the goals could be met, and a year later initiated the appointment of an ad hoc committee to identify financial solutions to sustain the District and support the plan.

The Ad Hoc Committee, comprised of a diverse group of 17 citizens who have in some cases in the past publicly disagreed with the actions of the District, met from January to June 2014 to fully understand the District’s finances and strategic goals and identify some answers. The report of the committee was reviewed in July and again this month by the Board. It can be viewed here.

The Ad Hoc Committee recommended a number of specific action items. Within the framework of an overall, long term plan, these action items support objectives to stabilize enrollment, support the culture of excellence embraced by the District and improve the District’s financial stability.

Three of the specific action items are being pursued by the District currently. Details about 4-year-old kindergarten, the sale of District land and a facilities referendum are discussed below.

4-K Public Commentary October 27

The addition of 4-year-old kindergarten to the public schools in MTSD has been discussed and voted down twice in recent years. Nonetheless, it was among the recommendations from the Ad Hoc Committee. Why?

  • A 4-K program generates higher enrollment, which would stem the downward trend MTSD has seen for most of the last 10-15 years. Enrollment is tied directly to revenue for the District.
  • Students who attend private/parochial schools for 4-K are more likely to stay there rather than move to public schools.
  • Educationally, a 4-K program improves preparation for 5-K and ensures students come into 5-K with a consistent set of skills.
  • 96% of all K-12 Districts in the state now have a 4-K program.

The Board of Education will seek public comment on the proposed addition of 4-K next year at its October 27 business meeting . The meeting will begin at 7:00pm at the Range Line Conference Room. Citizens unable to attend are encouraged to email their comments to school board members. The Board will vote at its November meeting but will not entertain public comments at that time. Emails can be found here.

Facilities Referendum Considered to Address Aging School Properties

Got 50-year-old windows in your house? MTSD does, as well as having asbestos floor tiles starting to crack and other materials in the buildings just plain wearing out. A facilities report and long term plan presented in April was the catalyst for consideration of a facilities referendum to upgrade facilities district-wide. The Long Term Facilities Plan presented can be reviewed here.

There are four components being considered:
Capital Improvements for items like flooring, windows and dozens of other projects, coming to a total of $11,065,419.

Homestead Performing Arts: The mouse that appeared on the auditorium stage during the 2014 Annual Meeting might have been the so-called “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to the state of the HHS Performing Arts facilities. A total of $2,105,220 is requested to, among other things, replace the seating in the facility which is one of the largest auditoriums in the area.

Homestead Athletics: A total of $1,278,018 will be asked to improve athletic facilities, including the replacement of bleachers, new gym curtains and similar projects. The HHS Boosters are hoping to improve on the facilities at the high school to an even greater extent through a private fundraising effort to make other significant capital improvements. (See post below).

Student Centered Learning Environments: Anyone who has attended a forum or meeting in the Lecture Hall at HHS can use that as an example of needed improvements. In addition to not being ADA compliant, the space would benefit from an improved set up for electronic communications and seating which would facilitate student group work. The IMCs (Instructional Media Centers) at all the schools would similarly benefit from improvements to allow students to more fully utilize the research and other resources available there. The total for these projects, which would be at all schools, would be $5,299,176.

The District will do a survey to educate citizens about the need and gauge support. There will also be opportunities for residents to tour the aging facilities to see first hand the need that exists and the vision for these projects. The Administration is expected to make a formal recommendation to the Board of Education in December 2014.

If approved by the electorate at any level, funding for the project would be structured to dovetail with the payoff of the last facilities referendum, passed in 1998. Based on projections from the District’s financial advisors at Robert W. Baird, taxpayers would see a small impact on their taxes initially and would see a decrease once the 1998 referendum was completely paid off in 2019.

MTSD Receives Bid on Swan Road Land

The Central Growth Area, formally approved by the City of Mequon this summer, is attracting attention from developers. The 112-acre tract of land in the Central Growth Area owned by MTSD is on the market and reportedly has received a bid of $2.1myln. The last appraisal, in February 2013, gave the land a value of $1,990,000.

The District will vote on a sale at its October 27 business meeting, held at Range Line School at 7:00pm. The Board of Education plans to use the proceeds from the sale to pay off non-referendum debt in the amount of $1,600,000, which will free up $260,000 per year currently being paid out for principal and interest on the debt. Those funds will be available for other regular budget items.

The City has already put in place parameters for lot size and other requirements for developers in the Central Growth Area. Any proposal would have to be approved by the City of Mequon Planning Commission, a process that could take several months. For more information on the possible sale, click here.

School Board, School District, The Schools

HHS Boosters Poised to Upgrade Sports Facilities

More than four years ago, the HHS Boosters, a group that supports athletics at Homestead High School, discussed initiating a fund drive to upgrade sports facilities at Homestead. While there was enthusiasm for the project, the Board of Education declined to support such an initiative given the financial challenges being faced at that time.

The HHS Boosters have come forward again with a plan for significant upgrades to the sports facilities at HHS.  The Booster plan will go beyond what the District is contemplating in its Facilities Referendum, and the Boosters expect to pay for the additional upgrades with private funding.

The District plan, according to Superintendent Demond Means, would encompass projects such as replacing portable bleachers in the Fieldhouse, replacing the floors in the Auxiliary and Main gyms, gym curtains, improvements to the soccer field and tennis court area and relocation of the Field events.

The Boosters, in their initial phase, envision spending about $500,000 on a new concession/washroom/teamroom and/or outdoor classroom structure and $1,000,000 for multi-sport field turf on the football field, which would make it more usable.

For more information, click here.

School Board, School District, The Schools

Chamber of Commerce Honors Jackson, Szymborski and glaze

Congratulations to businesses and individuals recently recognized by the Mequon-Thiensville Chamber of Commerce:

Citizen of the Year:
Dave Jackson

Business of the Year:

Distinguished Service Award Recipient:
Lee Szymborski

The City, The Village

Mequon, Thiensville Look to Future Opportunities

City and Village leaders met on September 30 to discuss shared concerns and look to the future. Among the topics discussed were traffic, likely to increase with the completion of the Town Center project, branding/marketing of the communities and the need to consider cost saving consolidations of services. For more information, click here.

The City, The Village

Community Service Forum Planned for Sept 24 and Oct 2

Two upcoming Community Service Forums will allow interested citizens in Mequon and Thiensville to learn more about how they can give back to their community through elected office, appointed positions and volunteer roles.

The forums will take place Sept. 24 and Oct. 2 in the conference room of Range Line School in Mequon, with both events starting at 6:30 p.m. The events are sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Ozaukee County and InformMT.

The September 24 meeting will be televised and broadcast on local cable channels 13 and 22.

Participants will include individuals who have previously held elected and volunteer roles locally; they will share insights on time commitment, how to pursue various volunteer positions, elections, and other aspects of community involvement. A League of Women Voters representative will serve as moderator and host for the session, which will include opportunities for attendees to ask questions.

Range Line School is located at 11040 Range Line Rd. in Mequon.


Ozaukee County, School Board, The City, The Village

Mequon Passes Social Host Ordinance

As reported by the News Graphic, Tuesday night the Mequon Common Council voted to approve a Social Host Ordinance.  In doing so, the city joins Thiensville and communities across the country in trying to deter parents from hosting underage drinkers in their home.

While adults can currently be cited for hosting underage drinkers, the fine is $376.  The new ordinance allows citations carrying a fine of up to $2,500 (in Thiensville, the fine can go to $5,000) if a parent knowingly allows underage consumption.

To read the entire article, click here.  To read the ordinance, click here and scroll to page 80 of 172.

The City, The Village

MTSD Starts the School Year with Good News About Performance


The HHS Class of 2014 scored a 26.0 on the ACT test, the highest average in school history.  The District has scored 25.0 or higher each of the last 8 years.  For more information, click here.


Newsweek magazine’s The Daily Beast blog recently posted its assessment of high schools nationwide and Homestead High School was featured prominently on the list.  The school was named #10 in the Midwest and 98th overall.  Three of the schools ranked ahead of Homestead in the Midwest were magnet schools, and one, Edina High School in Edina Minnesota, is a school and district commonly used as a benchmark for MTSD.  For more information on the rankings and a link to the survey results, click here.



The Schools

Ville du Parc Easement Changes Approved by Common Council

A special Common Council meeting last week brought closure to a lengthy dispute that pitted neighbor against neighbor in the Ville du Parc subdivision and brought standing-room-only crowds to Common Council meetings on more than one occasion.

At issue was the desire of River Club of Mequon owner Tom Weickardt to create a subdivision on land that neighbors considered to be an easement written into their titles and unavailable for development.

A related issue was a proposal by Weickardt to bring consistency to  the array of easements in place in the various Ville du Parc neighborhoods.

A compromise agreed to in April provided Weickardt with a go-ahead from the City to build a much smaller number of homes and will preserve the rest of the land including extensive Milwaukee River frontage thanks to an arrangement between the City of Mequon and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.  Changes have also been made to write continuity into the various easements, some of which had expired, in the neighborhood.

For more information, click here.